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Port news from Marseille Fos

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Christine Cabau Woehrel

Christine Cabau Woehrel

Marseille Fos and Miami twin for cruise and container growth  

Fifteen years after they first twinned, the Marseille Fos and Miami port authorities have renewed the link in a move to support further development of their mutual cruise and container interests.

The latest agreement was signed in Marseille by the port’s CEO Christine Cabau Woehrel and Miami port director Juan Kuryla.  The original twinning in 2000 with Miami – which handled 4.8 million cruise passengers last year – was key to establishing the cruise offering at Marseille, which is forecasting 1.5 million cruise visitors this year and is already among the top five Mediterranean cruise ports.  The two ports now intend to study how their complementary seasons can boost growth in their respective markets.

They also aim to exploit their similarities in the container sector.  Both ports are leading regional hubs – Marseille for the Mediterranean and Miami for the Caribbean – and each has annual throughput of around one million teu, with Marseille handling 1.17m teu in 2014 and the US port on 0.877m teu.  The potential for more container trades between the ports was reinforced late last year when Miami joined Fos in the rotation for the India/Middle East/US East Coast Amerigo Express service operated by CMA CGM, Hanjin and UASC.

Other objectives of the new twinning agreement include sharing best practices on port security and on urban-port projects such as Les Terrasses du Port in Marseille.  This development, financed by a public/private partnership of the port and retail property firm Hammerson, combines commercial premises with leisure attractions and is said to have caught the interest of the Miami port and city authorities.

Medlink award marks modal shift to inland waterways          

Best practice certification for container shippers on the Rhone-Saone river network in France has been awarded to a 15th regular user by the Medlink Ports Development Agency, the modal shift promotional body formed last year by the Marseille Fos and Sete port authorities, nine river ports, inland waterways authority Voies Navigables de France and the Compagnie Nationale du Rhone.

The award to DIY equipment specialist Leroy Merlin comes five years after the company adopted the waterways mode to ship between Valence and Fos.  Its traffic has doubled over the past four years from 1, 500 teu to 3, 200 teu in 2014.  The growth has enabled operator Logirhone to schedule two calls per week at Valence and has also prompted other shippers from the region to use the service.

Leroy Merlin joins companies such as Bayer, Michelin and Renault in winning Medlink accreditation, which comes with benefits including several additional days of free park standing for full containers at various inland ports.

The announcement took place during a shippers’ workshop in Valence organised by Medlink and the local chamber of commerce.  Customs officials and representatives from IT company MGI explained new initiatives including streamlined procedures and VAT incentives, while Logirhone and a second operator, Greenmodal, outlined the transport options.

Last year Rhone-Saone container traffic rose 22% on 2013 to 96, 000 teu, marking a threefold increase since 2008.  Meanwhile the Medlink partnership is also targeting growth in bulk and conventional trades.

Marseille set for cold ironing    

In what is claimed as a first for France and the Mediterranean, shoreside electrical power for ships at berth – ‘cold ironing’ – is to be launched by the Marseille Fos port authority in conjunction with Corsica and Sardinia ferry operator La Meridionale.

The facility will be available from this October following six months of work to install the quayside power network and adapt the company’s vessels – Kalliste, Girolata and Piana – so that their diesel generators are no longer required during port calls.

Switching to environmentally-friendly shoreside electricity will reduce noise, fuel consumption and air emissions.  For each ship, the change will eliminate CO2 and particle emissions equivalent to more than 3, 000 vehicles per day on the 64km route from Marseille to Aix, while NOx emissions will fall by the equivalent of 65, 000 vehicles per day.

The €4.4 million initiative follows several years of studies and was part-financed by national and regional government aid.

Cruiseship repair plan hit by Marseille drydock delay        

The Marseille Fos port authority has announced a six-month delay to the scheduled re-opening this autumn of its giant Drydock 10 shiprepair facility, which is undergoing a €28 million renovation after being closed since 2000.

The delay follows a concrete pile-driving mishap in March when a small section of wall at the base of the dock gate was dislodged and revealed deep cracking.  Main contractor Spie batignolles TPCI suspended operations to lead an exhaustive study of the concrete and steel reinforcement that was completed in May.  The company has now defined remedial measures and adjusted the project completion date to next March.

At 465 metres long and 85m wide, the drydock is the world’s third biggest.  It will cater for the latest generation container carriers, LNG tankers, bulk vessels and offshore rigs, but is being marketed principally as a mega cruiseship repair base offering minimum deviation.  Marseille is the leading French cruise port – handling 493 calls and 1.3 million passengers last year – and 65% of the world’s largest cruise vessels operate in the Mediterranean.

The 25-year drydock operating franchise was won by a group including Italy’s San Giorgio del Porto, their subsidiary Chantier Naval de Marseille (CNM) – which currently runs two smaller drydocks at the port – and cruiseship builder Mariotti.

Shipowners who were in line to use Drydock 10 from September have been advised of the delay and helped with alternative arrangements by CNM and the port authority, who are now working to confirm bookings from next spring.

Press enquiries: Paul Ellis, Direct Public Relations, UK +44 (0)1923 260960

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